The Deadly Space Between: A Novel

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9780060085933: The Deadly Space Between: A Novel

At the center of The Deadly Space Between is an adolescent boy, Toby Hawk, whose intimate relationship with his mother and her mysterious lover leads to a chilling outcome. A solitary boy in a family of independent, unconventional women, Toby lives in a small, closed world that consists of school and surfing the Internet. His mother, only fifteen years his senior, is a painter on the brink of commercial success. But everything changes when she takes up with Roehm, a fascinating but enigmatic scientist. As he begins his slow dance of courtship and seduction, alienating mother from son, their lives become unstable and duplicitous. But who is Roehm really -- this huge, sinister, irresistible man with no discernible past? The confused adolescent turns to the Web for clues about his mother's hauntingly seductive, predatory lover -- and the answers he finds transform his life.

An eerie psychological ghost story with echoes of Faust, Freud, and Frankenstein, The Deadly Space Between is a disturbing tale of Oedipal passions -- a rich and dark exploration of sexual ambiguity and longing.

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About the Author:

Patricia Duncker teaches writing and nineteenth-and twentieth-century literature at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. She is the author of two previous novels, Hallucinating Foucault, which won Dillon's First Fiction Award and the McKitterick Prize for best first novel, and The Doctor, as well as a collection of stories, Monsieur Shoushana's Lemon Trees.

From Publishers Weekly:

Her literary reputation well established with Hallucinating Foucault and The Doctor, Duncker here draws on Mary Shelley, Herman Melville and Freud, yet the work is powerfully her own, erotically charged and, finally, enigmatic. Most of this provocative novel is narrated by London-bred Tobias, the 18-year-old son of Iso, an unmarried girl who gave birth to him before she was 16. She has never identified his father, and perhaps not unconsciously encourages him to be infatuated with her, even allowing him certain sexual freedoms. Iso is fascinated by a huge man, identified only as Roehm, 25 years her senior; he is physically overwhelming and intuitively aware of her feelings and movements. Tobias, no less than his mother, develops a near-sexual relationship with him. When Tobias discovers that Roehm is actually his father, the Oedipal nature of this strange menage a trois is evident. In Melville's words, they have transgressed the deadly space between. Tobias finally tries to kill Roehm, but is unsuccessful, and after he and Iso flee to the glacier-covered mountains of Switzerland (corresponding to Shelley's Arctic ice floes), Roehm follows. His body is soon discovered in a crevasse near their retreat. When Iso goes to the police to confess to having killed him, they laugh. They have examined the body, they say; it is two centuries old and has been identified as one Gustave Roehm, a Swiss alpinist. Mother and son depart, but find they are still not entirely free of Roehm. The major source Duncker fails to acknowledge is Henry James, and if her contemporary ghost story lacks the exquisite subtlety of The Turn of the Screw, it captures the imagination, grotesquely repellant yet sinuously compelling.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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